As India resumed air travel after a hiatus of two months on Monday, May 25, the passengers who boarded planes on the very first day witnessed a number of changes in the procedure of flying. Airports have come up with a new set of rules in order to protect the travellers as well as their staff from getting exposed to the novel coronavirus in any which way.
Domestic flight services were suspended across the country in the wake of the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Following several rounds of meetings with top ministers and officials, the Centre decided to resume flight operations in a calibrated manner.
Changes made in the procedure of boarding a plane:
- To keep contact between the passengers and the airport staff at a bare minimum, flyers with carry-on luggage are made to use the scan and print boarding card system. They are directed to go the machines one by one, print their boarding passes and then proceed for security check. Also, airports have initiated contactless entry and digital verification process.
- Multiple stores selling PPE kits have been set up at airports. Passengers can also buy gloves, masks and sanitizers at a reasonable price from these shops. Furthermore, distanced seating arrangements have been made for flyers while they wait to board the plane.
- At the time of security check, the passengers are required to follow the norms set by the respective airports. Also, they still need to keep their belonging such as mobile phones, laptops, wallets, belts, etc in a tray.
- Airlines have resorted to zonal boarding to make sure social distancing does not go for a toss at the time of boarding. Passengers can move towards the boarding gate only after their seat number is announced. Thermal checking of passengers is also being done at boarding gates.
- Most of the airports are facilitating boarding by an aerobridge as much as possible. They are avoiding using buses to ferry passengers to planes.
- Several airlines are providing a new in-flight kit to passengers which has face shield, mask and two sachets of sanitizer in it.
- Almost all airlines have made hazmat suit and face shield compulsory for cabin crew as they will be in contact with passengers. For pilots, gloves and masks are mandatory.
As was noted by the government in their new set of guidelines, only asymptomatic passengers who have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app or have a self-declaration form showing their COVID-19 negative status will be allowed into the airport.
Besides, many states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar, Punjab, Assam and Andhra Pradesh have announced separate norms and quarantine measures for arriving passengers.